know your bezos onions

know your bezos onions

It’s quite typical to start a small business in a garage. It’s less common to start one in a penthouse office-suite in downtown Manhatten. But it is genuinely unique to start one in a garage and then grow it to the colossus which is Amazon. Yet there were always the right marketing genes in the DNA of the nascent online empire we know today.

Jeff Bezos began selling books, virtual books, which he didn’t actually own. His only help was family members. At the start, he arranged for books sent out to have an autographed bookmark thanking the purchaser and wishing them a good read. This signature was not printed; it was actually signed, in ink. I know this to be so since I was a very early adopter of the Amazon system. To this day, I have a small collection of these bookmarks.

Books in Spain at that time were costly; even today, they are not cheap. Not unreasonably, they were also in Spanish, a language which I didn’t speak at the time. Further, the sparse range of English titles was unlikely to be about this new Internet thing which was then taking the tech world by storm. If you wanted Don Quijote, the local bookshop might well help you out. If you wanted the latest online material by post, you went to Amazon. Postage was high. Books were air-shipped to Spain from the USA, but Amazon’s purchase price couldn’t be bettered. It balanced out and, if you were prepared to pay FedEx, it was incredibly fast. I could get a response from Amazon quicker than a snail-mail from the local town hall. In fact, come to think of it, I still can.

I’m well aware these, ‘I was there when…’ stories cut little ice – such as ‘I had a brother-in-law who went to school with Margaret Thatcher’ (also true), but in Amazon’s case, following the company’s growth, I picked some handy tips. Once Bezos’ company got really started online, it soon became the website to emulate. Its efficiency and user-friendly design was a veritable design beacon to others. If you wanted to see what an excellent online sales website looked like, there was no better place than Amazon.

There then followed a whole string of ground-breaking features, like one-click purchase buttons, copied and used to significant effect by so many other selling websites today. Get clients to add their data once and then re-use it automatically every time they made a purchase. Finding what you wanted was fast, buying it was even quicker, and you could get next day delivery to your front door if you needed it. The products were good, the prices were right, and the delivery was exceptional. They could have been selling fridges to Eskimos, it didn’t matter, with an ethos like that, it couldn’t fail. And, of course, it didn’t. Like Topsy, it just grew and grew.

Which brings us, when it comes to book sales, to another of the Amazon killer-features – the look inside. The ability to read a chapter or two before buying was a masterstroke. Let’s return for a moment to the off-line world, the local bookshop. You’re in there browsing the books. Mostly you’ve come to the section which most interests you. A title catches your eye, and you take it down from the shelf. You look at the front cover, then turn it over and glance at the stuff on the back. From there, you might browse the table of contents, and finally, you’ll flip the book open and read a couple of paragraphs. That is the staircase to the heaven of a book sale.

Your buyer needs to pass, one step at a time, through the process before they decide and carry your book to the checkout. Amazon does all of that. They give you categories to search, book covers to view, synopsis to read and almost always the ability to read a few pages and the chapters list. Meanwhile, there’s that one-click button hovering over there on the right, eager to take your order.

If you want to sell your book, on your website, with anything like the success of Amazon, you must offer the same features. Today these are not luxury add-ons; they are essentials. PdePages will be glad to help you every step of the way. Odd though it may seem, I’m not after your money. But I do need your help; I need you to do the things I’m not good at, like social media. Equally links between our websites costs no money and little effort, and we both get to take another step towards getting known.

There’s no commitment, no strings and no payment either way whatsoever. The day that our deal no longer works for you, just let me know. I’ll be sad to see you go but, as we all know, circumstances change and we must all change with them. If you’re interested, want more details, or you are just plain nosey, then check out the links below and get in touch.

indie-authors only

indie-authors only

We all know how to peel a potato. So, why do we buy so many oven chips?

You know, the ones you just open the packet and stuff them in a hot oven for a few minutes. They are much more expensive and may well contain preservatives not good for either the body or the waistline.  Each American eats more than 55 kg of potatoes every year. However, fresh potato consumption has declined from more than 22 kg per person in 1993 to just under 16 kg in 2018. So, why is that?

Simple answer: because it’s more convenient. We all prefer not bothering to buy, clean, peel, boil, fry and whatever to the little darlings. We’d much rather somebody else did that for us. A little of which could be because were a bit lazy but the real answer is we’ve all got better things to do than spend our time messing around with spuds.

BTW: One commonly quoted explanation for why we call potatoes spuds is there was a 19th century activist group called The Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet, or SPUD, which was formed to keep potatoes out of Britain. This group didn’t want Brits eating them as it was killing the market for other home-grown vegetables. The story was perpetuated in Mario Pei’s 1949 book, The Story of Language.

Be that as it may, convenience and a shortage of time to dedicate what authors really enjoy, writing, means they’re not all that keen on building websites. Sure, they can get free hosted websites on places like Wix, Toala and the rest, but you’ve still got to build the wretched thing.

You’ve got to learn their system, gather your graphics, (a veritable copyright-minefield in itself), and shove the whole thing together so it looks at least half-decent. Even then the torture is not over – now comes SEO, keywords and a whole bunch of other trials and tribulations. Good news, it is not.

Perhaps you now see where the example of potatoes and oven chips comes in? Both good chips and good websites can be a very messy, hugely time-consuming business; time and effort far better dedicated to writing your next best-seller.

As the person behind PdePages, I have been a professional designer, both on and offline, for many decades. I can claim to go back to the to the megalithic days of DOS, Cobol and Fortran. Along the way since then, I’ve made, to put it mildly, a few errors. But I’ve also learnt quite a few tricks of the online design trade. For me it has become second nature. What I never got into and what I find to be a veritable jungle is social media. Meanwhile, those later to the online party have taken to it like babes to a nipple.

It doesn’t take an Einstein to see there’s an opportunity here. Your help me and I help you. I will provide you with a really well designed, effective website to promote your book, and you can help me out surviving in the steamy online jungles of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. All of which are distinctly behind-the-lines enemy territory to me.

Interested?

Click the ‘Get yours‘ button below and we can both get on with advancing together.

writing it right

writing it right

The crucial sentence in any article is the first. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the second, then your article just died. Still with me? Good, let’s look at some powerful writing concepts:

  • Simplicity
  • Lack of clutter
  • Brevity

These will ensure your articles live long enough for you to retire, collecting the pension they’ve earned.

Maximum Simplicity

The secret of good writing is stripping every sentence to its cleanest components. Each word serving no function, drop it. Every long word that could be shorter, make it so. Frequently the higher the writer’s education or rank, the worse their addiction to unnecessary words. This affliction is not recent.

In 1942 a senior Presidential staffer wrote concerning the blackout required by war-time conditions:

Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and non-Federal buildings occupied by the Federal government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination.

Roosevelt suggested: Tell them that in buildings where they keep working to put something across the windows.

Minimum Clutter:

Fighting clutter is like fighting weeds – the writer is always slightly behind. New varieties sprout overnight, and by noon they’re part of everyday speech. Nixon’s aide John Dean said on television during Watergate, “at this point in time”. By next morning this had replaced the word “now” in the American language. By sunset, it had spread across the English-speaking globe faster than a Code Red virus!

Word meanings get twisted, creating more clutter. It seems that today, people always “address” things instead of dealing with them. “Experiencing” is another splendid example. Your dentist may ask if you’re experiencing pain. What he’d say to a five-year-old is: Does it hurt? Any doubts which is most effective?

Brevity

Mark Twain: Had I more time, I should have written less. Enough said!

Specific Style

Few of us realise how badly we write. First, it’s essential to strip sentences to bare bones, ensuring removal of all surplus baggage. Only then can we consider style – that with which we to seek to charm our readers. Style is where we focus our words on distinct audiences. Here the sonnet and the recipe part company. Though going their separate ways, they must still share the same powerful common ingredients.

Get excited

If there’s no enthusiasm in the writer, there’ll be none in the reader! Allow your writing to get emotional – let your readers know you’re keen. They may disagree strongly with your views, but at least they’ll read them. Boredom – and your writing has just committed suicide!

Adverbs

Most adverbs are clutter – effortlessly easy – myself personally – don’t say that the radio blared loudly – blared means loud, how else can anything blare? Virtually unique is like saying somebody is virtually pregnant. Either they are, or they’re not! Virtually shouldn’t get a look in!

Noun Breeding

Why is it nobody goes broke these days, they have money problem areas. It no longer rains; we have precipitation activity or thunderstorm probability. Get real – say what you mean – simply.

Credibility

Credibility is as fragile for a writer as for a politician. Don’t inflate anything. Get caught in a single bogus statement, and everything else you write will be suspect. Don’t do it.

Contractions

Your style will be warmer and more authentic to your personality using contractions such as “I’ll” and “can’t”. Check if your style is stilted by reading it out loud – to your spouse or your dog. Whichever doesn’t matter. You’ll soon pick up the style in your voice – does it work for you? Does it flow? Does it sound right? If not, do it again.

Paragraphs

Keep them short. Writing is visual. It catches the eye before it has a chance to catch the brain. Short paragraphs put white space around your writing and make it look inviting. Long chunks of type can discourage readers from even starting.

Rewriting

You’re going to hate this one! Rewriting is the essence of writing well. It’s where the game is won or lost. We all have emotional equity in our first draft; we can’t believe it wasn’t born perfect. The odds are it wasn’t. Reread it tomorrow. Consider Mark Twain’s comment about brevity. Use what time you have to distil your words to the potency of good whisky.

Go with YOUR flow

There’s no subject you don’t have permission to write about. I’ve read articles on fishing, flying, football, pistons and perfumes. Plus dozens of topics in which I thought I had no interest. People often avoid subjects that are close to their hearts, assuming readers will consider them “stupid”. No area of life is stupid to someone who takes it seriously.

Finally

Follow your fancies, and you’ll write well. Apply these powerful principles – and you’ll do it even better! You’ll engage, enlighten and entertain your readers. Which is all your readers will ever ask of you.

book cover offer

book cover offer

Don’t let Mr Bezos, Mr Gates, or even Mr Trump fool you. Nobody ever built anything substantial by themselves. They all needed help, especially when they started out – and you and I are no different.Book cover

Writing the book is the fun part. It oft-times may not seem so on those ‘dark and stormy nights’ when your muse has deserted you – the white paper of the Word document staring back at you like an opaque white mirror. Even so, writing your book is almost always the easiest part of your journey. This comes as a sharp shock to many who, on dashing off that closing killer paragraph then breathe a sigh of relief. It’s done; it’s all finally on record. Whoopee!

Now comes the slog, the editing, the checking, the formatting, the beta readers – does the list never end? Sorry, no – there’s still the cover to be done, the blurb for the back page if it’s going to print and a dozen or so others bits and bobs. It’s a three-ring circus – and you’re the ringmaster!

This is not Harry Potter land – more’s the pity. There’s no Hagrid, Quidditch or Hogwarts knocking around in either your or my neck of the woods. J.K. Rowling has sole rights to those and she worked damned hard to get them – we all do. I have no magic spells. But I do have a cunning plan, of a much superior quality to Baldrick’s best.

I have many years of experience in web design which I largely gave up to write when I retired. Have finished a book or two I find myself back in the design, blogging and website game – full circle. Like most writers, I prefer the writing rather than all the ‘stuff’ that goes with as baggage. So, when it came to a re-design of the cover for the newly titled Deception for Power and Profit, I put it out to tender.

I decided I’d check out both ends of the scale – Fiverr and the professionals. Fiverr’s best was asking for around $50. You don’t get a lot for $50 these days in design, and that was what I got – not a lot. It was fine, basic but pedestrian – no pizzazz. If you took a book with that cover off the shelf and bought it, it wasn’t because the cover had worked its magic. Okay so, what about the pros? Well, now we’re into serious money. I struck a deal for $250. Writing of the main article continued but there was always that thrill of anticipation in the background for what the designer might come up with.

To keep a long, tawdry and unhappy situation polite, the result was not as expected. I could do as well or better myself – so I did. What I didn’t get was my money back but we always pay for experience so it’s a lesson learned.

It was probably musing on my misspent cash which caused the spark of a solution. If I was having such problems so were others. Hmm, I’d yet to organise the marketing of my books and if there’s a group of things I hate, (apart from the obvious politicians and bankers) it’s marketing and social media. Twitter, Facebook and I just don’t get on. You know how it was when that distant old aunt with a stubbly kid gave you a kiss when you were a kid? Well, that’s me and social media. Yet millions love it. Oh well, each to his own.

Ping! Where do these creative thoughts spring from – probably Hogwarts, I guess. Whatever – it suddenly struck me others may not enjoy book cover design like me. Maybe they felt about it like me and social media. They were stuck. as I was initially, with a tough choice of cheap & cheerful from Fiverr and the rest or run the hard-handed gauntlet of a pro-job which may or may not work out. How about I offer to do book-covers in return for a bit of social media from others? No deals, no cash, just helping each other out. PdePages Book Covers was born.

Check out the details here.


Get your FREE Professional Book Cover Now

 


deception – birth

deception – birth

Deception for Power and Profit Book 1This book is no Johnny-come-lately. The seeds lay dormant beneath the hard earth of reality for many years. In many ways, it is, in essence, a summation of all my Alice-in-Wonderland surprises of over half a century’s living in several different countries and societies.

Distilled from many and varied times spent both at summer balls, complete with white-tie, champagne cocktails and ushers, to others beside the high-street cardboard mattress crew. It’s based on wide experience and a laser-look at some very dodgy but all too commonly accepted ideas. It really is time to wake up.

In fact, those Alice-in-Wonderland feelings prompted the original title which was Fairy Tales for Grown Ups. This was a popular choice until a wise marketer pointed out it was good but was also going to upset a whole bunch of people. No matter if on Google or Amazon, Mums seeking bed-time stories for youngsters were the ones who were going to be entering the keywords Fairy Tales. Deception for Power and Profit Book 2

 They were going to be more than a little upset when they came across a book detailing the shenanigans of modern society. Whilst such bed-time reading might well have prepared their tender-offspring better for the tricks and traps of modern life, when it came to settling down to sleep, Thomas the Tank Engine and his pals were a better bet. The result would be no sale, frustrated Mums and the two big search engines for books both pointing everybody down the wrong alley. It had to go.

 And so, Deception for Power and Profit was born. This, one would hope, left little or no doubt to the browsing book-seeker what lay between the covers. People with that odd, queasy intuition things in today’s society were not quite as they should be, would find what they were looking for and the infants could slumber between their own covers innocent, untroubled and uninformed. No matter, their time would come

 Many notes were kept over many years ending up with an incredible stack shuffled into a fantastic note-taking app called Bear. I recommended it to you. Like a distant oasis in the desert, the destination was hazy and distant. There were many mirages along the way. Eventually, the idea got a skeleton and, bit by bit, factual meat was hung upon its bones.

Maybe there was, like in Snoopy’s case, a dark and stormy night. For suddenly it seemed touched by lightning. The whole project came to life. Swiftly it took on the energy of a bowl of fermenting yeast, a very sorcerer’s apprentice of a book – there was no controlling it. Originally intended as a brief ebook of around 40,000 words, it tripled in size. An adjustment was clearly needed.Deception for Power and Profit Book 3

After much dithering, the obvious answer arrived like a bucket of cold water – split it into three ebooks. And that is what happened. As I write, Book 1 is coming up to its final edit and should be published in late November. Book 2 is scheduled for the end of this year, 2018 with the final one, Book 3 arriving in the first month or two of 2019.

At that point, all three ebooks will be combined into a door-stopper single book, in both paperback and hardback. After all, if we’re going to cut down the trees, it can at least be used as a door-stopper if nobody reads it. 🙂

In subsequent posts, I’ll be covering each book in more detail.


Get your FREE Professional Book Cover Now

 


writing it right

The crucial sentence in any article is the first. If it doesn't induce the reader to proceed to the second, then your article just died. Still with me? Good, let's look at some powerful writing concepts: Simplicity Lack of clutter Brevity These will ensure your...

know your bezos onions

It's quite typical to start a small business in a garage. It's less common to start one in a penthouse office-suite in downtown Manhatten. But it is genuinely unique to start one in a garage and then grow it to the colossus which is Amazon. Yet there were always the...

deception – birth

This book is no Johnny-come-lately. The seeds lay dormant beneath the hard earth of reality for many years. In many ways, it is, in essence, a summation of all my Alice-in-Wonderland surprises of over half a century's living in several different countries...

deception Book 1

Ignorance is cheap. And then it costs you everything.– Rachael Watts 2017 Just five months after America’s 9/11 Twin Towers outrage, Donald Rumsfeld, the then US Secretary of Defense, gave a master-class in dissimulation at a defence department briefing. His theme was...

book cover offer

Don't let Mr Bezos, Mr Gates, or even Mr Trump fool you. Nobody ever built anything substantial by themselves. They all needed help, especially when they started out - and you and I are no different. Writing the book is the fun part. It oft-times may not seem so on...

indie-authors only

We all know how to peel a potato. So, why do we buy so many oven chips? You know, the ones you just open the packet and stuff them in a hot oven for a few minutes. They are much more expensive and may well contain preservatives not good for either the body or the...

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close